In a move that will come as a surprise to nobody, Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP is set to step down from the oil company following the criticism of his leadership of the company during the oil leak in the Mexican Gulf.
In what many see as nothing more than a bid to appease the company’s detractors, Hayward will leave his position following a board meeting with his successor named as Bob Dudley, a southern American who has led the clean-up operation and will be a more favourable figure for the American politicians to work with as BP begins to mend its reputation in the States.
Hayward has been heavily criticised during the clean-up operation, mainly for statements made to the media which seemed to play down the disaster, compared by US President Obama to being as serious as the terrorist attacks during 9/11.
Hayward’s most damning quote will no doubt haunt him as he leaves his job, when he answered not long after the crisis that he wanted the leak fixed as quickly as possible, saying; “I want my life back”. A quote that has been picked up by many of the locals in the area who’s lives have been devastated while the oil leak continued.
With the leak now seemingly under control, the company have viewed now as the time to act in being seem to shore up its leadership and begin to build bridges with America and its global image.
Nathan Lane, managing director of Leeds PR consultancy Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger, commented on the news that Hayward was to step down; “The buck has to stop somewhere and the biggest environmental disaster in US history demands it stops with the guy in charge. Management changes are a side issue until they provide a permanent fix to the spill and then they have decades of work to repair the brand in the US. BP needs advocates among Gulf residents and friends in Washington.”
Hayward’s resignation is expected to be announced at some stage tomorrow.